-Chapter 11: From the Heart-

On Wednesday morning, Bryce was having breakfast in the cafeteria when Jacaranda and Ira approached him.

"We wanted to know if you decided who you wanted to sing with," Ira told him.

"Well, I've given it a bit of thought," Bryce said. "Though not a lot since I've got other issues to work on also. And I think that while I am a boy, my vocal range might sound better with the girls for the moment."

"Okay, then," Jacaranda said, smiling. "We'll get together during free time and practice. Also, think about something you'd like to express in song."

"What?" Bryce asked, cautiously.

"One thing we do as a form of therapy here is to sing what we are feeling. And not just that we are sad, or happy, or mad. But why we are feeling that way. Of course it doesn't have to be about specific people. Some things are too private. But lyrics like 'don't they drive you mad' or 'she always made me smile' are acceptable."

"Poetry isn't my strong point," Bryce warned.

"It doesn't have to rhyme, only be from your own heart."

"What if I don't sound good?" Bryce asked.

"That's why we practice," Jacaranda told him. "You should also practice during chore time. It'll speed up your improvement. Plus it will make the chores go by faster."

That evening, while the others were watching television in the two break rooms, Bryce went to his and Egon's room to work on his song for choir. He lay in bed on his stomach with an old fashioned pad of paper and a pencil. The nightmare had come the previous night also, so the memory of it had still been there when Jacaranda had spoken to him about the songwriting part of choir. As the words came, so did the tears.

By the time Egon joined him at lights out, he had cried himself to sleep.

The next day, Bryce walked into Dr. Anderson's office at his usual appointment time.

"When we last spoke," she said, "you were thinking of joining the girls' side of the choir because of your vocal range."

"I did," Bryce confirmed.

"Have you written your song yet?" Dr. Anderson asked.

"Just a bit of it," Bryce said. "I'm not ready to sing it yet, though."

"May I read it?" Dr. Anderson asked. "I'd like to see if there's anything in it that might help us to find out more about what you've forgotten."

Bryce shook his head. "I'm not ready."

"This fire we discussed the day after you saw Mr. Carter... is this song about that?" she asked.

Bryce nodded. "It happened at the Reunion Think Tank."

"Were you invited?"

"Yes," Bryce replied. "But I didn't go." he looked anxiously up at the clock. "Time's up," he said. "Isn't it?"

"We'll talk more about the fire next week," Dr. Anderson said, firmly.

Jacaranda and Rita were in the practice room when Bryce joined them after lunch.

"Have you written your song?"

"Some of it," Bryce admitted. "I don't how it'll sound."

"You'll sound like someone who's just learning how to sing," Jacaranda told him. "That's how we all sounded the first time we sang our own lyrics. Don't worry about the notes too much. We know this is raw material. Just sing the best you can for now."

Bryce nodded and beganů

"My heart aches

I don't know why

I never thought

I'd feel anything at all

But why did it have to be this

Why do I feel the heat and the smoke

Why in my dreams do I burn and choke

When I wasn't even in the fire

What was the reason


It was far from perfect, mostly because he got so choked up by his own tears that he had to stop singing twice. In the end, Bryce sat down on one of the chairs and wept into his hands.

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